WWI and citizenship in the USA

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WWI and citizenship in the USA

Postby LifesADance » 14 Oct 2010, 21:48

Hello!
Does anyone know if a person had to be naturalized to to serve in WWI? My grandfather was born in italy, came over to the USA in the early 1900's and his application for citizenship was denied in may 1917. I am thinking this is why he did not serve in the war. His brothers, who were naturalized did serve. My grandfather eventually became naturalized but WWI had ended at that point. Thanks much. GREAT SITE :D
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Re: WWI and citizenship in the USA

Postby johnnyonthespot » 14 Oct 2010, 22:41

No, many aliens served with the US military during WWI.

He may have had health issues which interfered with both naturalization and serving during the war. Many of our Italian ancestors were not in the best of condition and many of them (the males in particular) were underweight and quite short in stature as well.
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Re: WWI and citizenship in the USA

Postby LifesADance » 15 Oct 2010, 13:52

Thanks Carmine, I have a follow up question. Were there any rules in place in the Army during that time where only one son would be drafted? Both my grandfather and great uncle filed draft cards, they were 23 and 24 at the time. Both draft cards were filled out the same, saying they had to support their mother and father, they were citizens of ITaly with the declared intention to be US citizens. It has been a mystery why only my uncle went into the war. He was the older of the two of them. As far as we can tell from his pictures and family history, my grandfather was not unhealthy or unusually short (5'6"). Any help is appreciated. :D
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Re: WWI and citizenship in the USA

Postby johnnyonthespot » 15 Oct 2010, 14:34

I don't beleive there were any such rules in place at the time; in fact, WWI went through so many soldiers that everyone was being conscripted to serve.

Much later, during WWII, the defense department initiated the "Sole Survivor Policy" as a result of the deaths of five Sullivan brothers when their naval ship, the USS Juneau was sunk. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sullivan_brothers

Another possibility for your grandfather not serving may be tied to the reason his initial citizenship application was denied. It would be interesting to find out the reason for denial. If he were deemed a foriegn spy, for example... Just kidding! :)
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Re: WWI and citizenship in the USA

Postby LifesADance » 15 Oct 2010, 15:27

Yes it is a good mystery! I've written to the NYC court for copies of his citizenship applications, both the denied and approved ones. hopefully there will be some clue there. Something must have happened, but my father didnt know and there is no one else around to ask. I'll just have to wait to see if I can find anything out from his citizenship papers. It has been a mystery for so long, I hope it is something exciting like he was a spy and not just due to a clerical error. :D thanks
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Re: WWI and citizenship in the USA

Postby LifesADance » 12 Nov 2010, 19:38

Hi again, just a follow up post. I finally did get my grandfathers naturalization records, both the denied and approved. The first application was denied due to a "incompetent witness". A year later he applied again, as I said, and he had a new witness-his brother.
I have also found some references to the fact that although aliens were taken into the service during WWI, they were not the first choice of the service. I am thinking maybe there was a question of their loyality...but do not know for sure.
Also, I have seen reference that not every man who filled out a draft card served and not all those served filled out a draft card. Perhaps since computers weren't invented yet, the system had a lot more glitches in it. (OR NOT) :-D
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